If you feel like doing something good for yourself and for those you love, visit the Norton Museum of Art this week. Museums engage their visitors to promote the enjoyment of authentic culture through valuable things or works, and that’s exactly what you will experience after a few hours at the recently renovated world-class campus for the arts in town.
There are so many things to see at the museum that it’s hard to know where to begin. But as our curiosity is often larger than what our brains can handle, here are 12 reasons why you should really make a trip to the Norton this week.
1- It’s free Fridays and Saturdays.
Sunday through Thursday, the Norton Museum of Art general admission is $18 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. But due to the generosity of the Lunder Foundation of the Peter and Paula Lunder Family, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, and Damon and Katherine Mezzacappa, entrance to the museum is free every Friday and Saturday.
Besides the variety of exhibits, Fridays are especially good for the Museums’s weekly Art After Dark program, where guests can view exhibitions, participate in art activities, enjoy a performance, concert, or film, and a lot more. Saturdays offer a particular opportunity to explore the museum and feel inspired by art.
2 – Parking is also free
Everywhere you go nowadays, expect to pay for parking. But that’s not the case at the new Norton. Parking is free. Again…, free.
The Museum, located at 1450 S. Dixie Highway, has a large parking lot sitting across the campus. There’s also limited handicap parking available in the passenger drop-off loop located near the Museum entrance.
3- The Norton’s entrance is iconic for a first photo
The new grand entryway has a huge 43-foot high aluminum overhang, an overhang cutaway to accommodate an enormous 80 year-old banyan tree, and a reflecting pool that houses a clever sculpture by Claes Oldenburg called “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X”
It is really hard to miss the 19-foot-4-inch tall Typewriter Eraser, Scale X standing jauntily on the pool, upending a conventional relationship between viewer and subject. This sculpture evokes real enjoyment for art and culture, and undoubtedly the best backdrop for a photo while at the Norton.
4- The Chinese collection
The collection of Chinese art at the museum is impressive with more than 700 objects including ancient jade and bronze, imperial jade and hardstone carvings, and other significant works of art illustrating the aesthetic values, technical achievements and cultural beliefs of China.
You will see ceramics, lacquer, metalwork, paintings, sculptures, and textiles that were produced over a span of approximately 5,000 years.So if you have heard of the Qing dynasty, you will be thrilled to see objects representing that significant period of Chinese prominence in the 1700s.
5- The Persian Sealife Ceiling
Be prepared to look up and be dazzled by another favorite of Norton’s visitors.
This installation by Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor with outstanding artistic merit in the field of blown glass, is made of many individual elements taking the form of sea life. The spacious area where the installation is and the lighting that fills it, allows the elements to shimmer on the surrounding walls for a spectacular viewing.
6- Large paintings
Find yourself in the midst of a gallery with large canvas of paintings like a recent acquisition from the Jeff Koons’ Antiquity series. Antiquity is a painting with a background that depicts a patchwork of two paintings separated by 400 years—Titan’s Venus and Adonis and Pablo Picasso’s Le baiser (The Kiss).
This is an impressive art where Koons overlays a childlike drawing of a female anatomy —Aphrodite— over the expanse of the composition.
7- Give it a ‘Cosmic Gaze’
Take a moment to sit back and gaze at partially silvered crystal spheres made of stainless steel on a laminated wood painted in black.
This is an art installation by Olafur Eliasson, who has long explored the relationship between art and science. He put together more than 300 glass orbs of various sizes that appear to float off a darken background in nebulae-like clusters. If you get closer, you will notice how the orbs reflect inverted, condensed images that mimic your movements and the surroundings.
No, there’s no typo.
This is a large polystyrene cardboard painted using polyvinyl acetate, steel, and fabrics by RAW artist Phyllia Barlow hanging from one of the Norton’s galleries that will urge you to have an individual experience of the materials and the effect each sculpture has in the space in which it is discovered.
Beware. It has a strip of red fabric that may animate you to think it was forgotten or misplaced. So, remember, “do not touch.”
9- ‘See and Be Seen’
This current exhibition at the Norton has a lot to teach us about our world of Instagram and those 15 minutes of fame.
Now through October 22, ‘See and Be Seen, Picturing Notoriety’ takes you from the 19th century flâneur to today’s social media networkers and how the need to get a glimpse of famous personalities, and the compulsion to be seen within an aura of celebrity and influence, has driven art.
It is a very dynamic assembling of works that show humanity’s fascination with celebrities and legendary figures, but at the same time the new wave of technology is inserted, explaining how those who used to be the ‘seers’ now can also be seen, changing the distinction forever.
10- Ceramic castles, mermaids, and Japanese bridges
A three-story installation sprinkles over 6,000 pieces of hand poured glass up the walls of a staircase that leads to new galleries. ‘I Remember Ceramic Castles, Mermaids & Japanese Bridges‘ is the actual title of the work which is spelled out on the wall at the landing of the ground floor level, with thousands more glass shapes that resemble sea spray in silver and cerulean blue shimmering their way up the stair.
This is another must-take photo (selfie) opportunity when you visit before heading out to the new Norton’s garden.
11- The Gardens
The centerpiece of the Norton Museum transformation is the Pamela and Robert B. Goergen Garden with abundant trees and plantings in different sections arranged axially across the main building. The garden provides an amazing view from inside the indoor glass and steel colonnade in the main building.
There are large-scale sculptures, among them, Antony Gormley’s “Total Strangers,” three cast-iron, life-size human figures facing in opposite directions on the lawn. There are also walking paths and benches that beckon viewers to stroll and take it all in.
12- Eat with a view
At the far end of the lawn is the new restaurant, a sleek 165-seat fine-dining eatery that has outdoor terrace seating, private dining rooms in the back and a bar.
No matter where you sit, you get the views of the gardens and its lush landscaping.
The menu is moderately priced. They serve brunch and lunch six days a week –the museum is closed on Wednesday– and dinner on Fridays in conjunction with the weekly Art After Dark series. The restaurant serves modern American fare that includes dishes relatively familiar—Mahi Taco, Roasted Beet Salads, Chicken Club Sandwich, Quiche, Burger— but executed with style.
So, now you know. A visit to the Norton this week will be something to enjoy.
Sometimes we use a museum admission price as an excuse to stay at home, but hopefully, knowing that the Norton is free on Fridays and Saturdays, plus the above-mentioned array of suggested things to do, exhibits, and activities while in there, the experience might become a meaningful part of your identity and love for the arts.
If you visit the Norton Museum this week, check www.norton.org for updated special events or exhibitions. The museum is located at 1450 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, 33401; and their phone number is (561) 832-5196.
visit the Norton Museum of Art this week